An open letter to the L.A. City Council Transportation Committee

As things stand right now, it doesn’t look like I’ll be able to attend today’s meeting of the City Council Transportation Committee. So this morning, I emailed the following letter to each of the committee members:

Dear Councilmember,

During recent City Council and Transportation Committee meetings, I have watched as council members have made a number of specific bike-related requests to various city agencies. These have ranged from requesting a trial Sharrows project from LADOT, to asking the LAPD to report back about recent bicycle incidents and improving training related to bicycle activities.

However, instead of proceeding with a Sharrows project, a representative of LADOT first claimed uncertainty over what type of paint to use to avoid liability for cyclists slipping on wet paint. Yet they could have answered that question by calling their corresponding departments in San Francisco or New York, or any of the countless cities which already use Sharrows – or they could have simply visited UCLA, which has had Sharrows on campus for a number of years. Now LADOT reports that they will be unable to move forward with an initial Sharrows project until at least next year.

Meanwhile, the LAPD initial response on the Hummer incident barely scratched the surface, concluding that the investigating officer had been correct – without addressing the concerns of the cycling community that this accident could not have occurred in the manner the officer described, or that by their failure to respond appropriately, they had given drivers tacit approval to assault cyclists.

The clear impression given by these inadequate responses is that city agencies do not feel they have to take council members seriously, or respond to them in a timely or accurate matter. Frankly, as a resident of Los Angeles, I find that prospect frightening, as it raises questions of whether our elected officials are actually in charge of this city.

Today, you are scheduled to hear from Alta Planning regarding the new Bicycle Master Plan, as well as receiving a report from the LAPD following their failure to appear last week. I hope that you will insist that all city agencies, as well as outside contractors, respond to the Council and its committees in a complete, accurate and truthful manner, and that you will not accept any response that fails to address the questions at hand.

I would also call your attention to the MassBike Police Officer Training program, developed in conjunction with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as a national template to educate police departments about laws relating to bicyclists. I would request that the representatives of the LAPD be asked whether this information is currently being taught at the police academy; and if not, if there is any valid reason why this free, two-hour program cannot be incorporated into the existing officer training curriculum at the police academy.

As for Alta Planning, I hope you will ask them if the current version of the Bicycle Master Plan accurately reflects their vision and work, or if there is an earlier draft which is more reflective of their efforts. In addition, I request that you will ask them if any city employees or departments have played an active role in restricting their efforts, resulting in the expensive failure of the current proposed plan.

As citizens of Los Angeles, you are our representatives in governing this city. Unless and until you hold every city agency accountable for failing to respond appropriately to your requests, we will have no voice in the management, future and livability of our own city.

Sincerely,

Ted Rogers

Los Angeles 5th Council District

………

Alex marks the one year anniversary of Taco Tuesdays, and the rapidly evolving bike scene that gave birth to it. Mikey Wally is one of 42 cyclists making their way from New York to L.A. A San Diego-area cyclist riding across country is killed in Illinois by a hit-and-run driver. Long Beach is moving forward with a new bike trail along the old Red Car line. Kiplinger calculates how much you can save biking to work. Bike Week comes to my old hometown. Alabama discovers that narrow country roads and inattentive/aggressive drivers could pose a hazard to cyclists. New York marks over 30 years of bike racing in Harlem. And finally, evidently, the recent Arizona letter writer was right, as one of those selfish cyclists in Utah is killed when a driver goes into diabetic shock.

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